Now that Jerry Sloan is signed to a new three-year contract, Karl Malone can concentrate on important things like tag-team wrestling.
Sloan's agreement with the Utah Jazz, which was finalized last week when the coach was in town for the NBA draft, runs through the 2000-2001 season. Sloan had one year remaining on his previous deal, but Jazz general manager Tim Howells said the deal signed last week was completely new.
Malone, who will wrestle Dennis Rodman on July 12 in a pay-per-view match, has said he wouldn't play in Utah for any other coach. He has also been critical of Jazz management's handling of Sloan's contract limbo.
"I've said it before, I'm not going to be here if Jerry isn't here," Malone said last month. "They need to make that commitment to him or Karl Malone will find someplace else."
Sloan, vacationing at his farm in southern Illinois, and Malone were unavailable for comment Thursday.
Sloan, who is easily the NBA's longest-tenured coach, will begin his 11th season with the Jazz this fall. Houston's Rudy Tomjanovich is the only other coach who has been with his team longer than six full seasons.
Sloan, 56, has been Utah's head coach since early in the 1988-89 season when he succeeded Frank Layden. He guided the Jazz to consecutive Western Conference championships in the last two seasons, both of which ended with losses in the NBA Finals to the Chicago Bulls.
The Jazz and Sloan have been in agreement on the new deal for a month now, but the contract wasn't signed until the finals were finished. The deal was reported in The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.
"We just haven't finished or formalized it because we don't think it's time right now," team owner Larry Miller said on June 3, "but Jerry and the Jazz are in accord on where we want to go in the foreseeable future."
The Jazz have won four Mdwest Division titles, as well as the two conference championships, under Sloan. Utah has never won fewer than 47 games and finished lower than third in the division since Sloan has been at the helm.
Terms of the deal were not released, but Sloan said earlier this year that he's "just not interested" in the exorbitant salaries paid to coaches in the modern game. Sloan's salary of $1.25 million last year made him the 23rd highest-paid coach in the league.
"I'm not in this to make a whole bunch of money," Sloan said. ``I'm here because this is a great organization that's been great to me and my family."
In December, Sloan said that an extension beyond the 1998-99 season, which had been publicly promised during the previous offseason, had not been tendered. But Miller said the Jazz had every intention of keeping Sloan as their coach and that a deal was forthcoming.
Sloan and his wife, Bobbye, who is recovering from breast cancer, are spending the summer at their southern Illinois farm. Some had speculated that Sloan was contemplating retirement during his wife's battle with cancer, which she appears to be winning.
Sloan played for the Bulls for 10 years and coached the team for nearly three seasons before being fired in 1982. There had also been speculation earlier this year that Sloan was a candidate to replace Phil Jackson on the Bulls' bench.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved